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A chat with Grow Up Grandad's teenage stars

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Ahead of the return of Steelworks theatre’s Grow Up Grandad in September, we’ve been chatting to Eliza Dobson, 14, and Rose Allen, 13, the two young actresses who will be reprising the role of troublesome teenager, Poppy.

Poppy is a loud, brash, rebellious teenager who is forced to move in with her estranged grandad who she has never been close to. At first, she struggles to find common ground with the grouchy figure, but she soon builds a close bond which is then threatened when some unsettling family secrets arise.

The play received excellent reviews last year from critics and audience members alike and is returning to our Theatre in September before heading out on tour to venues across the North.

Ahead of starting rehearsals, we spoke to the pair about making a return to the stage, the reactions from their family, and their dreams and ambitions for the future.

Eliza: I am absolutely delighted to be playing the role of Poppy again! When I received the phone call I couldn’t believe it, I started screaming I was so happy, and to be going to tour as well is just incredible. My family are really excited too, my nana has all the press cuttings from the last run at ARC cut out and framed!

Since performing at ARC last autumn, we both quickly settled back into the routine of going to school and our weekly dance and drama classes, but I can’t wait to be able to start with the rehearsals again this year. I absolutely love everything about performing - reading the scripts, the rehearsals and of course, being on stage - it’s my dream.

I love singing and dancing, they are my two passions. Before performing in Grow Up Grandad last year I had been in a few school productions, I didn’t know if I’d get through the auditions so I was overwhelmed when Gordon wanted me to share the main role with Rose.

When I leave school I already know what I want to do - I want to move to London and go to Brit School and hopefully get into the entertainment industry, it would be my dream come true, I really don’t want to do anything else.

Rose: I really loved playing the role of Poppy too, and all of my family were really proud of me, some couldn’t stop crying after the performances.

It has been an amazing experience meeting Eliza too, we’ve become really good friends. Last year we used to go to each other’s houses to read the script, and we would message each other about how best to play this particular scene and just share ideas and bounce off each other, I don’t think I would have had as much fun if we weren’t in this together. Eliza would get more nervous than me, so I would try to calm her nerves from the wings before she went on stage.

Eliza: Yes, I don’t think I could have got over my nerves if I didn’t have Rose giving me some advice, she really helped me keep calm.

Rose: If I don’t end up having a career in the entertainment industry after I leave school then I think I’d like to go to college and study archaeology.
I love dancing, singing and acting, but I have other interests too. For the moment though I’m just really enjoying this amazing opportunity and can’t wait to start rehearsals again.

We have started to read through the script and there are a few bits that are slightly different to last year’s, so we will have to re-learn all of our lines all over again. There are some phrases and scenes which we can’t help blurting out sometimes, it’s an inside joke with our families!

We are both really grateful to Gordon for this amazing opportunity to play Poppy again, and we’d love to see loads of people at ARC and on the rest of the tour, whether it’s new faces who have heard about the play from others, or people who just want to see it again. It’s great to support a local playwright and we’re both local girls so it means so much when we see people come out to support us, and we can promise that Poppy has even more edge this time – after all, she is a teenager!

Grow Up Grandad returns to ARC on Mon 5 to Sat 10 Sep. All times and ticket prices for the whole tour can be found here (link). The performance on Mon 5 Sept at 7.30pm will be BSL interpreted, and there will be a post-show Q & A after the performance on Tue 6 Sep.